After Amsterdam, I headed to Utrecht where I had my only bad Airbnb experience. Normally, when I book a place through Airbnb, I get an apartment or some kind of semi-apartment set up where I have a fair bit of independence. In Utrecht though, I did the full bnb thing, staying in someone's house.
I arrive late Sunday afternoon to find the place was a fair way out of the city centre. An easy enough bus ride but not really walking distance. And, because of it being Sunday, the buses didn't run that frequently.
I got to the place and was shown the bathroom and my room and that's it. Pretty much that the rest of the house was out of bounds.
If the weather had been decent, I'd have ventured out of a walk - when you're on holidays in another county even the suburbs can be interesting - or worked with the dodgy bus system but it was drizzly and awful. My hosts did send someone (they had a lot of house guests) up to my room with some food they'd made so they weren't too unwelcoming and I curled up and read my book (I started reading the Game of Thrones books on hols -- might do a post about how reading GoT colours your Europe experience).
The next morning, I could not get hot water in the shower. I told my hosts that night and, the next morning they said it was fixed. It wasn't. I had two mornings of cold showers. That did not make me happy.
Anyway, this is a post about Utrecht, not a bitch about my Airbnb hosts. Utrecht itself is such a charming city that even the bad weather didn't ruin it for me.
I got an early bus back to the train station then explored the city on foot. I had no sightseeing goals, I just wandered around taking in all the charms of the city. The weather started off drizzly but nothing my umbrella couldn't handle.
The main section of the city has a long street of shops. If you walk one street back from that, a canal snakes through the city. The city is built up higher than the canal level but, in most places, you can walk down to paths that are closer to canal level which are filled with restaurants at night.
After exploring the church and most of the town, I decided to go down to one of the canal paths for a closer look. That's when it really started raining. The most crazy, intense rain ever. I mean, I've been caught in rain storms before but they last maybe 5, 10 minutes. This was not like that. This was rain of biblical proportions.
I huddled in a doorway with my umbrella, the rain hitting the ground and splashing back up onto my legs. I wore fabric shoes and they quickly became soaked through. Finally, my umbrella got so saturated, it barely provided any protection. My dress got soaked. Rain snuck in behind me and soaked my back.
I had a rain poncho in my bag but I had to hold my umbrella in one hand and there was nowhere dry for me to put my bag.
Eventually, I wrested with the rain poncho and got it on and made a dash up the stairs to street level only to huddle in an alleyway for a while, with not much better rain protection. I decided to risk the rain and run for proper shelter but most of the buildings in the street were private houses or shut shops.
Luckily, the first place I found was a Kathmandu store. Not the sort of place I normally shop but I came as close to buying a pair of Crocs that day as I ever will in my life! I did end up buying a chamois towel to dry myself off with so it was an opportune place to shelter.
I got some lunch and kept walking in my squelching shoes, wanting to check out the Dick Bruna museum. I got there and it's shut on Mondays! Fuck you, Miffy.
I decided to settle into a pub for the afternoon. If I'd have been staying somewhere more welcoming, I'd have probably gone back and changed into some dry clothes...
A few hours of cider drinking and listening to rockabilly music later, the sun came out and it was like it'd never rained at all. I wandered around some more, hit my new favourite store - Hema - for some shopping (I'd hung my cardigan off my bag to dry and ended up losing it) and then went to one of the canal-side places for dinner.
The best part of dinner was these figs stuff with goat's cheese and honey. The worst part was the shitty service. I ended up cancelling part of my order because I waited so long, I no longer wanted it.
I really didn't want to go back to my accommodation too early on account of me not liking the people so I found a crazy carnival going on and decided to hang out there for a while.
I'm not sure what the deal was but you paid to go in then there were all these acts going on but you had to pay to go in to see them too which seemed a bit much. Most of the acts popped out to put on mini performances though or just to move through the dining area to entice people to their shows.
My camera battery went flat in the middle of it and my tablet was near flat so I got very few photos of the crazy mayhem. Also, not speaking Dutch may have made it seem more crazy but I don't think so. Along with the various bands, hoop dancers and burlesque stuff, there was a "Jesus" doing some kind of revival type show, some guys dancing in mirror balled biker helmets and a "sex" act that involved shirtless guys saying sex in various weird voices.
After a few cocktails, it all made sense, kinda. In some weird, hipster way.
Utrecht, definitely worth a visit if you head to the Netherlands though completely do-able as a day trip from Amsterdam. It's about 1 hour train trip.
All my Utrecht photos (including some really bad selfies).